NM delegation, advocates hail court’s DACA ruling

June 18, 2020
In The News

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the state’s congressional delegation and immigration advocates praised the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to reject President Donald Trump’s efforts to end legal protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program recipients.

The governor called Thursday’s ruling — which came on a 5-4 vote — “long overdue.”

“DACA recipients are our neighbors, our coworkers, and our friends, working to build lives for themselves in the only country they have ever known,” Lujan Grisham said in a news release. “They are an essential part of the very fabric of our community, and the protections offered to them by DACA are critical to both their individual safety and future and to the collective future of New Mexico.”

DACA recipients were brought to the country illegally or through visitor’s visas as children that later expired.

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, D-N.M., said in a statement there are 17,000 in the state who depend on the program “to study, work, and contribute to the only country they call home.”

And U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-N.M., said many were essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Today’s decision means that these essential members of our community are protected and will remain part of the fabric of our community as we work together to reopen and rebuild during COVID-19,” she said.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., hailed the ruling as “a major relief for hundreds of thousands of Dreamers whose lives have been thrown into turmoil since President Trump ordered an end to DACA.”

Yazmin Irazoqui is one of those Dreamers. The University of New Mexico School of Medicine graduate testified last year at a U.S. House of Representatives hearing about protections for undocumented immigrant youth.

“I celebrate with all those who have been living in uncertainty and fear for the past several years,” Irazoqui said in a release from the New Mexico Dream Team. She was brought to the U.S. when she was 3 years-old under a visitor’s visa. “The fight to end this program that has allowed me to make my dreams come true is rooted in racism and xenophobia.”

She urged lawmakers to come up with a permanent solution.

And James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, said DACA “is not a path to citizenship, and making it one must be our goal moving forward.”

Lujan, Torres Small and U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., sponsored the Dream and Promise Act, which passed the House last year. The legislation would grant legal status to DACA recipients and provide a path to citizenship.

Heinrich and U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., are calling for the Senate to put the bill on the floor for a vote.

“It is long past time that the Trump administration and the Senate Republican majority stop holding Dreamers hostage and pass a path to citizenship,” Udall said in a news release. He said the bill has “languished in Majority Leader McConnell’s legislative graveyard.”

“Congress must hold the administration accountable for flouting American values and finally fix our broken immigration system,” Heinrich said.